Queer artist and author Anel Flores reads from her book Empanada: A Lesbiana Story en Probaditas. Photo by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone.
Author Anel Flores reads from her book Empanada: A Lesbiana Story en Probaditas. Credit: Kathryn Boyd-Batstone / Rivard

Breaking News: It’s Not Okay

June 12, 2016?

49 shot dead and 53 injured at gay nightclub, Pulse, in Orlando, FL

June 13th at 8:15 am

I called my mom because I longed for the feeling of being a baby, the feeling of being held, a space to safely crumble and cry. And like my mexican mami who raised me on fresh frijoles, tortillas and peace-be-with-yous she asked, “Are you okay?”

I said “no,” and wanted to tell her why. But, she interrupted me before I could elaborate or spit out any feelings.

She told me, “We need to pray mija. The Virgencita, Jesucristo is waiting for us to give this mugre election up to them.”

“No, but mami, I am scared,” and she continued, “I know, I know, that’s why our Lord wants you to go to him.”

I kept saying I am scared I am scared in my head. I wanted desperately for her to hear me, wanted her to just listen, like I wanted her to listen when I was scared twenty three years before, alone in my dorm, afraid because the student from Lubbock across the hall told me I was going to hell and her Odessa,Texas boyfriend smeared dog shit on my car. But Mami stopped talking to me back then, after she found out I was one of la otras, a lesbian.

I told her again, “Mami, I am scared of all the hate in the world right now,” and she interrupted, “Mijita, I’m praying for our world, praying for the evil.” And, I remembered when I was told by a praying man that I was evil for being a lesbian, a disgrace, disgusting, committing mortal sin. Then, I remembered that our soon to be president and his posse said those same words about me and all my queer and transgender hermanas y hermanos, my brown, black, muslim familia, my sisters, and my gente coming to the US for dreams of quiet skies and rest.

Then I remembered, my Mami is not the mean man I am afraid of.

She loves me, but somewhere in all the battles she had to fight, between being punished for speaking spanish, degraded by her white teachers, segregation, Vietnam, ovarian cancer, the Cold War, multiple sexual assaults from superiors, her lesbian daughter and the things she has packed away behind surviving the hits and blows, somewhere, she became so scared she stopped fighting. I reminded myself that my Mami has come a long way, gone through a lot, loves my wife, my daughters and me very much, so I tried again. “I am scared, Mami,” I said,

and “and our daughters are scared too. They’re afraid, too.” This time I thought my Mami would understand because she know what it feels like to love her babies so much you’ll kill for them, you’ll run for them, you’ll fight for them. She held my brother to her chest and promised him to leave the country if he was called away to the Vietnam War. She was afraid of what the world was becoming then, the way I feel today, so I tried again. “Mami, I’m scared of Donald Trump and the people he’s making more mad, more mean,” I said. But something wouldn’t let her hear me. Something wouldn’t let the fear in and she interrupted again before I could continue.

“Mijita, we have to pray.”

I just wanted her to say she was going to come over, maybe make me caldo or sit with me, but she didn’t. I wanted her to say she was ready to fight for me, but she didn’t. The mocos broke up into my nose and I tried to tell her how scared I was again, but she kept praying and telling me it would be okay.

And, under my breath, on the other side of the phone I thought, But I am scared Mami. I was scared to hold Erika’s hand at the grocery store, yesterday, Mami, just getting out of the car. And, I wanted to tell her that I let go of my wife’s hand in the parking lot when a huge pick-up truck pulled up in front of us because I imagined someone jumping out to beat us with a two by four, like I had seen done before to a transgender woman on Main and Evergreen, on her knees. I wanted to cry and release my fears but she couldn’t hear. She told me again, “Mija, it will be okay,” and started to say goodbye. “Tell Erika and the girls I love them, mija,” and I wanted her to stay on the phone so I could tell her why I was even afraid to go to the bathroom alone at the grocery store, afraid someone would tell me I couldn’t go to the women’s bathroom, but she didn’t hear me. She told me it would be okay and to pray.

It is not okay.

It is not okay.

It was not okay when the old white man told me and my precious wife, “Let me take you both home to feel what a real dick feels like.”

It was not okay when the male coach told me at a pep rally he wanted to “rip the principal’s red leather pants off and fuck her in the custodial closet.”

It was not okay when my young, gay student was tormented by groups of boys near the library over and over until one day he never returned to school. Only to hear he died in the bathroom of causes we were never told, but a rope burn around his neck.

It was not okay the day we realized there needed to be a suicide hotline just for lgbtq kids.

It was not okay when we realized we needed another hotline just for transgender kids because the suicide numbers were so high.

It was not okay when my wife’s ex husband found it easy and foolproof to use our racist and homophobic laws to threaten her with the custody of our children and deportation.

It was not okay when our friend’s daughter was being poked on her breasts in school hallways and a football player threatened to text naked pics of her body to him, or else he’ll do it again and poke her somewhere else.

It was not okay when an adult man dragged my thirteen year old body to the beach, jammed his hand into my pants and my face into his. And it wasn’t okay the three other times this same thing happend, at 6, 11 and 16.

It was not okay when our other daughter’s roommate was raped in her dorm building by a swimmer at a Texas University and he got a slap on the hand. She dropped out of school because she was pregnant.

It was not okay when I held my father’s gun to my head because I believed my fat, raped, ridiculed body was dirty and ugly, and my soul was not worthy of walking this world.

And

It is not okay that when you started reading this another woman was sexually assaulted in the US and since then, two more, and before you are done at least one more will be raped, grabbed, beat against their will or hit.

It is not okay?

So do not tell me it is.?

I am scared.?

I am fueled.?

I have a right to be.?

And, I am not going to just pray.?

And, I’m not going to let you leave here thinking it’s okay.?

I’m going to yell right back at the man who comes at me next time.?

I am going to gather people together so we can take this patriarchy down ALIVE I am going to give my gente a safe place to land.?

I am going to write our truths until someone listens.?

I am going to walk you to your car so no one can lay a hand on you.?

And, I am going to be a phone call away?

When you want to tell me how scared you are?

Or you just want to talk about your scars.

This is not okay.?

If you don’t believe me, read this again.

Related: More ‘Viva Macondo’ entries

Anel Flores

Anel I. Flores was awarded Women’s Advocate of the Year 2018 from University of Texas San Antonio and the Nebrija Creadores Award from the Universidad de Alcala de Henares in Madrid, Spain. Flores was...